It’s time to get shucking. After last year’s huge success, the second annual Oliver/Osoyoos Oyster Festival will be held this week with a rip-roaring, five-day schedule.
Oyster farmers from the coast are heading inland again, bringing with them their beautiful bivalves to enjoy straight from the sea. Our local seafood specialists, Jon and Anne Marie Crofts, both expert shuckers from Kelowna’s Codfathers Seafood Market, are again onboard supplying a variety of oysters from Canada’s coastal regions.
Oystermania will be happening all over Oliver and Osoyoos with restaurants and resorts featuring oyster dishes, different events and special dinners. Event organizers say, “Try ‘em raw, scalded and grilled, on bread, on the half shell, fried, in savoury sauces, in salads, on pizza and even desserts.”
Here is a taste of what’s on the agenda, but go to the official website www.oooysterfestival.com for the complete event listings. B.C. Food and Wine Trails Magazine is also a proud sponsor of this event and I will be there as well with my cookbook, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker – An Okanagan Cookbook, on hand.
The festivities begin on Wednesday, with an oyster-themed long table dinner at Miradoro, and continue on Thursday with a Bubble, Oyster and Northern Divine Caviar Tasting followed by a pizza dinner at Terrafina Restaurant. On Friday, wine will take a backseat for a beer-and-oyster-pairing event. On Saturday, the Sage Pub hosts the second Amateur Shuck n’ Suck competition sponsored by Osoyoos’ Helen’s Seafood Cove market.
The festival will also be hosting Canada’s first Oyster Wine Competition (sponsored by Codfathers Seafood Market and Walnut Beach Resort) where judges will pair each wine submission with Marina’s Top Drawer Oysters from Outlandish Shellfish grown near Cortes Island. These frilly bivalves are sweet with a hint of cucumber.
The judges are: Rhys Pender, master of wine and owner of www.wineplus.ca; Mark Filatow, sommelier and chef at www.waterfrontrestaurant.ca and Canadian Culinary Championships British Columbia winner and finale competitor; Audrey Surrao, WSET certified and co-owner at www.raudz.com; Cassandra Anderton, food and wine writer and publisher of www.goodlifevancouver.com: and Brad Cooper, Okanagan winemaker and owner of Black Cloud Winery
The signature food and wine event, Art of the Oyster, takes place on Saturday afternoon at the oyster festival’s official hotel and sponsor, Walnut Beach Resort.
I absolutely loved this event last year — the food, the setting, the creativity of the chefs — all were amazing. Along with wine tastings from participating Oliver/Osoyoos wineries, you’ll see the oyster-themed culinary creations of the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Winery, Terrafina at Hester Creek Winery, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery, Walnut Beach Resort, Mica at Spirit Ridge, Watermark Resort, Nk’Mip Cellars Restaurant and Chef Chris Van Hooydonk and his new company, Artisan Culinary Concepts.
Freshly shucked oysters will be provided from Codfathers, Effingham, Outlandish, Brent Petkau ‘The Oysterman’ and Penticton’s Buy the Sea Market. For the daring diner, Covert Farms in Oliver will be offering up Prairie Oysters to taste (yep, them’s sheep’s testicles). Time: 3–5 p.m. Tickets cost $35 inclusive and are available by calling 1-877-936-5400.
Walnut Beach Resort, also a sponsor of the festival, will be offering great room rates starting at $79 so you can get “EFF’d” (Effingham Oyster’s slogan — he will have T-shirts for sale) and not have to drive home.
Jennifer Schell is the editor of B.C. Food and Wine Trails Magazine.